Teens influenced by home smoking bans
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Banning smoking in the home may help adolescents develop antismoking attitudes and impede early experimentation, but researchers report. Conversely having a family member who smokes may be an even more important determinant of adolescent smoking.
"Having a home smoking ban reduced the odds that an adolescent would begin to experiment with cigarettes but only in homes that did not contain smokers," Dr. Alison B. Albers and colleagues report.
During 2001 to 2002, Albers, of Boston University School of Public Health, and her team assessed antismoking attitudes reported by 3834 youths, 12 to 17 years old. The investigators also determined whether the youths lived with a smoking or nonsmoking parents and whether parents banned smoking in the home.
The investigators conducted similar follow up interviews 2-years later among nearly 73 percent of this group, and again after a total of 4 years in nearly 58 percent of the original participants.
Their study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Their findings show adolescents living in a household without a complete smoking ban were more likely to consider adult smoking socially acceptable, and were more likely to perceive a high smoking prevalence among adults who lived in the same town. These attitudes were consistent whether the youths lived with a smoker or with nonsmoking parents.
Youths living with nonsmokers were more likely to experiment with smoking over time when they lived in homes without smoking bans rather than with bans.
The researchers note that reducing smoking experimentation may require youths live in a home with a consistent smoking-is-not-acceptable message --- this means having non-smoking parents who completely ban smoking in the home.
However, complete smoking bans did not alter the overall progression to established smoking, regardless of co-residing with a smoker or nonsmokers.
Taken together, these findings suggest that home smoking bans have the potential to promote antismoking norms and inhibit early smoking experimentation, the investigators note, but bans may not prevent overall progression to established smoking.
SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, October 2008.
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